Knowing how to handle road situations safely has saved many lives. Maybe it saved your life. In a number of situations and events, you need to know how to respond appropriately while remaining safe. In the shock and stress of an accident or other events, it is easy to become confused, especially if you are injured. It is best to know what to do before situations arise. It is also wise to ensure that your young drivers also know what to do.
Here are a few common situations for drivers, and suggestions for what to do.
- It is too dangerous to get out of the car and exchange information after a minor accident. Remain in your car. Signal the other driver (with hand signals or by engaging your hazard flashers) and pull off the road to a safe location. This would be a busy and well-lit parking lot, a cross street that is well lit and has people around. Then call 911 and wait for a police officer to come to the scene. Protect yourself and your property by obtaining a police accident report.
- When you cannot move your vehicle off the road – due to an accident, a breakdown, or a medical emergency. If you can drive the car, move off the road as far as possible – shoulder, median – or drive the vehicle to the closest place that is off the road and call 911. If your vehicle is not drivable, engage emergency flashers, get out carefully, take your phone, and move a safe distance away from the vehicle. Always call 911. If an accident has disabled your vehicle you will want to get a police report. The responding police officer will help you contact a reputable tow truck and take steps to prevent an accident involving your vehicle.
- If a tire blows out, activate your hazard flashers and don’t slam on the brakes. Let the car slow to a safe speed and pull off the road. If you are on a busy street or traffic is moving at a high rate of speed, call 911. The responding police officer can direct traffic while you retrieve necessary items from the vehicle and prevent an accident while you await the tow truck. If you are in an unfamiliar location, you might ask the police officer about a trustworthy towing service. Reduce your risk of a blowout: check your tires before you leave on a trip.
- If an object falls off of your vehicle into the street, get off the road to a safe location. In some locations, you can retrieve the item safely. If you cannot do so safely, call police for help. They can direct traffic while you retrieve the item and prevent an accident caused by another driver hitting it or trying to avoid hitting it. You can prevent this from happening by ensuring that items on the vehicle or in the bed of a pickup truck are fully secured.
- If you see a disabled vehicle on the side of the road with the hood open, do not try to stop and help unless you are a mechanic. Instead, call police and identify the location of the disabled vehicle. They can safely provide help to the driver.
- If you are signaled by a police officer to pull off the road, and there is no place to do so safely, signal the officer by engaging your emergency flasher and get safely out of traffic. If you are afraid to pull over in an isolated location, signal the officer and drive to a place that is well-lit and where people are nearby.
Knowing how to handle situations of this kind will help you remain calm rather than panicking. Always think about your safety, the safety of other drivers, and the safety of emergency personnel who may respond. In Virginia, try to move your vehicle off the road in order to prevent other accidents. Be certain that you understand Virginia’s “Move over” and “Move it” laws. When you handle road situations safely, you protect others and often prevent an accident.
Bettina Altizer and the staff of Altizer Law, P.C., in Roanoke, VA care about your safety. We hope these reminders will help to keep you and your loved ones safe in the event of an emergency. If you are involved in an accident and you believe you need legal representation, we encourage you to call us.